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DONNCHA O’BRIAIN - Irish Traditional Music On Tin Whistle

DONNCHA O’BRIAIN - Irish Traditional Music On Tin Whistle
Gael Linn  CEFCD199

Coming from a well-respected Dublin musical family, Donncha O’Briain died in 1990 at the age of thirty, as the result of Muscular Dystrophy.  Despite the lifestyle restrictions that this condition brings, he soon established himself as a tin whistle player of renown, with his style of playing and ornamentation praised by many commentators on Irish music.

This CD is a re-release of his 1979 vinyl recording, with an additional three tracks from the archives of RTE Raidio na Gaeltachta, and there are clear influences of Donncha’s admiration for players like Mary Bergin, Micho Russell and Cathal McConnell in his crisp, rolling style.  He blends an innate understanding of the tunes with an ornamentation which is never overstated, but always adds to the completeness of the music.

There is a preponderance of reels here, with jigs, hornpipes and a solitary slow air, the haunting Ni Ar Chnoc Na Ar Isleacht, and Donncha is accompanied by members of his family on a few numbers, to fine effect, with father Dinnie on accordion, and brothers Mick, Tom and Andrew on pipes, fiddles and bodhran. The ensemble tracks do add an extra dimension to the whole recording, but in no way detract from the splendour of the solo tracks.

As a final tribute, the accordion and piano duo of Johnny Connolly and Charlie Lennon provide a final set which includes the Flying Wheelchair jig, which Charlie composed in honour of Donncha. 

Donncha also taught music, and a collection of tunes he used is published under the title of The Golden Eagle. It is only fitting that such a great musician should have such a range of ways in which to remember him.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 88 of The Living Tradition magazine.